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Music Review

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Squall Echo Rale


Artist: Louise Connell
Label: 9th Story Records
RRP: £13.99
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0 797776 945863
Release Date: 07 June 2019

Louise Connell, who previously released a number of albums under the Reverieme moniker, including 2016's Straw Woman, presents her new album, Squall Echo Rale. The tracks here were previously available as three EPs (Squall, Echo and Rale) and have been re-sequenced and now incorporate a gatefold sleeve and 24-page booklet featuring artwork and design by James Marsh.

Like Straw Woman, Squall Echo Rale is packed to bursting with quality songs that are instantly accessible. I did what I always do when reviewing albums. I played this through once, put it aside for a while and then played it again... The thing is I couldn't (and still can't) stop playing it.

Every single aspect of this album is honed to perfection. From the lyrics, the CD presentation, the music, the performances... it just feels like something that has been polished to perfection... and then polished some more. But somehow a spark of spontaneity runs throughout, making this feel like a flawless raw performance.

I defy anyone not to be enchanted by her lilting voice. But Connell's not a one trick pony or a Dolores O'Riordan sound alike. 'My Wandering Mind' and 'Viscous Fear' showcase her impressively wide vocal range - and the genres she touches upon are diverse. From folk-pop ('Shrapnel') to indie-pop ('Crossed the Line') to a little country ('Most Righteous People') to a hint of rockabilly ('Rope') to indie-rock ('Get to Know Me'). And then there are tracks that blend genres. 'Viscous Fear' is part rock, part folk... which works beautifully.

The album is comprised of 19 songs (1 hr, 13 min, 36 sec) so you'd expect a few below par numbers to have made their way in to pad out the runtime... but nope. Even on the first play through I couldn't find one song that was any less important than the others. And on subsequent listens the songs just get stronger.

The CD/digital booklet reprints the lyrics over James Marsh's incredible layout. And, even if you don't normally care about this sort of thing, it's an element I strongly advise you to spend a little time with. Connell's lyrics are not just words tacked onto the songs as an afterthought. What she's produced here is nothing short of beautiful modern poetry. Even if you hate poetry you'll find it hard not to be moved by some of the writing here.

It's a wonderful package. From the toe-tapping, infectious, The Cranberries-esque 'Crossed the Line' to the head banging 'Viscous Fear', you'll get years of pleasure from this album.


Darren Rea

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